I support all advocacies pertaining to fighting hunger and malnourishment in the country. I grab every opportunity to promote as much as I can because I was exposed to this reality when I was at the tender age of 7 and dad was working for different government agencies then. I frequently asked him why kids my age were so thin, bones and all showing because truthfully, it was a horrifying sight for a child to see. I vowed to myself that I will help in any way I can. I took part in many activities during high school and college days, twice when I was in the corporate world and several times since I got married. When I became a blogger, so long as my schedule permits, I join and always glad I did. This year, I’m so happy to have been part of the initial phase of Republic Cement’s nutritional program in partnership with Gawad Kalinga which continuously feeds more than 750 students in Batangas.

Republic Cement’s Kusina ng Kalinga Batangas Nutritional Program

Our day started with prepping/cooking that day’s meal which was a huge cauldron of Chicken with Cream of Mushroom. We took turns and honestly didn’t feel tired of all the stirring coz I knew that hungry kids will be very happy to eat their lunch.

Republic Cement’s Kusina ng Kalinga Batangas Nutritional Program

Then, we packed and off we went to our first school at Taysan. It was a wonderful feeling being able to feed the school kids with nutritious food!

Watch this short video and see how happy the kids were when we distributed the food.

The cement manufacturer has set up the first Kusina ng Kalinga (KnK) in the province to provide free nutritious lunch meals daily for schoolers from levels Kindergarten to Grade 3 for one school year. The pupils come from four public-academic institutions in Batangas, namely, Taysan Central School, Mapulo Elementary School, Bilogo Elementary School and Pag-asa Elementary School.

Lusog Caravan Republic Cement’s Kusina ng Kalinga Batangas Nutritional Program

“Our mission at Republic Cement has always been to strengthen and empower communities,” said PV Aquino, director of public affairs and communications of Republic Cement.

He noted that they tied up with Gawad Kalinga for the project because they saw the model of the Kusina as a sustainable solution to the perennial malnutrition problem, with scalable results in terms of health improvement by the end of the school year.

“Complemented with GK’s vision of addressing hunger and poverty among the young, we see this program as a step toward strengthening the future movers and shakers of the community,” he said. The menu of nutritious food be served in the fully equipped kitchen is backed by the DOST- Food Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) for the identified age group.

Launched during the Nutrition Month celebration in July, the campaign is aimed at addressing the common effects of severe hunger and undernourishment among Filipino children.

As per the program, equal importance is placed on caring for children who are “moderately malnourished” or “stunted” under the range of child growth standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO findings showed that “children with moderate malnutrition have an increased risk of mortality and most nutrition-related deaths among children are highly associated with moderate malnutrition.”

“The root cause of malnutrition is it is not approached proactively and sustainably. Conventional wisdom tells us that severe malnutrition must be a public-health priority and while we completely agree, we want to give equal importance to early prevention for children who might be at risk and even children who are currently healthy,” said Jose Luis Oquinena, GK executive director.

“The decision to implement universal feeding stems from our desire to arrest and even reduce instances of malnutrition in the beneficiary schools. We do not want to wait for kids to reach the critical point and be categorized as ‘malnourished’ before we address their [nutritional] needs,” Aquino said.

Lusog Caravan Republic Cement’s Kusina ng Kalinga Batangas Nutritional Program

For this project, mothers of student-beneficiaries have been tapped to assist in all activities in the kitchen from sanitary food preparation to distribution.

Republic also believes that the success of the KnK program in Batangas hinges on the understanding of parents of their role in promoting health and nutrition at home.

“We noticed that the parents themselves are requesting other food options – something their kids are used to such as processed food. Because of this we realized that it’s not enough for us to nourish just the body, we have to condition the mind and the spirit as well. This apply to both the parents and the kids,” says Republic Cement Corporate Communications Manager, Vida Rodriguez.

Through the Lusog Tibay Caravan, Republic will mount workshops for parents to teach them basic, cost-efficient and healthy food preparation for their children, as well as practical tips from resource persons and experts in the space of nutrition and values formation. For GK’s part, they want a heightened appreciation for basic but nutrition-packed ingredients.

Lusog Caravan Republic Cement’s Kusina ng Kalinga Batangas Nutritional Program with Bettina Carlos

“In our experience with Kusina ng Kalinga, a common realization among volunteer parents is that nutritious and hearty meals need not be expensive or difficult to prepare. We’re hoping to achieve that same behavior and mindset change here [in Batangas] because sound health practices really start at home,” said Kalayaan Santa Barbara, KnK operations head for South Luzon.

“We believe nourishment is essential to progress. Providing our young with physical nourishment ultimately means nourishing their dreams. Our youth, after all, is the foundation of our country and stronger kids make for a stronger Republic,” concludes Rodriguez.

Republic Cement plans to expand the program to more schools in the short term.

It was an exhilarating experience for me and I would gladly do it again. Thank you, Republic Cement for making it possible and for continuously providing freshly cooked meal daily for these children.

About Kusina ng Kalinga
Launched in 2017 in partnership with Gawad Kalinga, the Taysan Kusina ng Kalinga is the Company’s flagship anti-hunger and malnutrition prevention program in Batangas. Over a course of one year, more than 750 Taysan students stand to benefit from the free nutritious lunch meals to be generated by the Kusina with the help of community volunteers. The Kusina is one of the Company’s community development programs under its Lusog Tibay Caravan initiative, which aims to strengthen their partner communities toward building a stronger Republic.

About Republic Cement
Republic Cement is a leading local cement manufacturing and distribution company in the Philippines with a nationwide footprint. Together with its subsidiaries, it focuses on being the trusted solutions partner for building a greener, stronger Republic. It is backed by the global expertise of CRH, a leading building materials company headquartered in Ireland, and Aboitiz, a diversified Filipino business conglomerate recognized as one of the best-managed companies in Asia. For more information, visit www.republiccement.com